Dodd: Saban will find a way
There simply isn't enough time to list every reason why Florida will beat Alabama in the SEC title game, so let's just start with a few: Urban Meyer is a big-game coach and Nick Saban isn't; super-virgin Tim Tebow; a faster defense; more depth and more speed overall.
More, more, more.
So many reasons why the Gators will win, so little time.
Which is why I'll focus on one: Greg McElroy.
He's the Alabama quarterback and easily one of the more pedestrian throwers on a big-time team in recent college football history.
Fine young man, good dude, likeable fellow, but if you believe McElroy can beat Florida, you're either an Alabama fan or my man Dennis Dodd.
Here's what Florida will do: It'll attack the obvious target in running back Mark Ingram. It'll shut Ingram down. It'll shut him down because Charlie Strong is the best defensive mind in college football right now.
Strong's defense (which is better than Alabama's) can stop Ingram because Ingram is basically the sole high-caliber weapon on that Crimson Tide offense (please don't give me Julio Jones). Shut down Ingram and you stop the Crimson Tide.
It's that simple.
The Gators are one of the few teams in the country with the speed and athleticism to do just that. It doesn't matter if they've lost one of their star defenders to gin and Cokes. The Gators are so deep it's one All-American out, another All-American in.
So the pressure is on McElroy, who is college football's version of Kyle Boller. Fine young man, good dude, likeable fellow, but he's Kyle Boller.
Saban has won this season by scheming McElroy into the background and covering his weaknesses. He won't be able to do that against the Gators. At some point McElroy will have to throw and throw often, and then he'll be exposed.
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If you want to know how this game will go, just pull out tape of Alabama's game against Auburn last week. The Tigers consistently crowded the line of scrimmage, putting eight men in the box and forcing McElroy to pass. McElroy played well, but Auburn dictated the pace and Alabama had to scramble for the victory in the final minutes.
If a similar plot line develops in the Florida game, the Gators will win by two touchdowns.
McElroy is a good leader and game manager, but due to the high-quality defense, he'll need to do more than manage. He'll need to be explosive. I'm not so certain explosive is in McElroy's genome.
McElroy looked fantastic against Florida International and the University of North Texas, but Dodd would look fantastic against Florida International and North Texas.
"We haven't played anybody with their talent level yet," McElroy told the Montgomery Advertiser this week, speaking of the Gators. "But we've been very productive. We're averaging a lot more yards than last year. ... We have a lot of good playmakers and I feel confident in the improvements we've made."
Alabama believes this offense is more explosive than the one that faced Florida last year. We'll see.
In the end, McElroy will have to play the game of his life. We know Tebow can do that. We've seen it twice. Can McElroy?
Fine young man, good dude, likeable fellow.
Just in over his head.